Guadaiza, one of the reservoirs that make up the existing Costa system. Josele
Gibralmedina reservoir project will bring water to the Costa del Sol

Gibralmedina reservoir project will bring water to the Costa del Sol

The plans will be presented to mayors and groups before being submitted to the government. The dam and pipelines will cost 600 million

Chus Heredia

Friday, 28 June 2024, 12:29

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Efforts to manage structural drought issues have resulted in Malaga province having about 40 hydraulic projects under way, or recently completed, by the regional government, totalling more than 400 million euros. Strategic actions include desalination, groundwater management, and water recycling. However, for long-term solutions, infrastructure projects like new reservoirs are essential.

One such project is the Gibralmedina dam, located on the border between Malaga and Cadiz. The regional government has drafted construction plans and intends to present them to local mayors and groups before seeking government approval for funding and supervision.

The aim is to regulate the Guadiaro river in the Campo de Gibraltar basin, but a large part of the course and floodplain for the future dam is in Malaga. Crucially, the future reservoir will supply water to Malaga province.

Two projects: dam and pipelines

Technical sources from the regional government have explained to SUR that two projects are involved. The first, the dam itself, has a projected cost of 400 million euros. The second, the pipelines from Cadiz to the Costa del Sol, amounts to 200 million euros. More details will be revealed during the presentations, reflecting the transparency efforts of the team led by regional minister Ramón Fernández Pacheco.

600 million

is the cost set for the two projects: the reservoir plus pipelines to the Costa del Sol. The technical drafting has exceeded 437,000 euros, 19.20% more than the initial amount for the transfer to the Costa del Sol.

The huge numbers involved for this infrastructure plan, which is vital to guarantee a stable water supply to the Costa, were revealed by SUR in January of this year, when it published the modified project.

Developments since the initial plans

This is a long-term project and has been 30 years in the making, but the step that has just been taken is a pivotal one. Studies suggest raw water supply up to 15 hm3 to the Costa (other sources suggest a maximum of 9 hm3). The project will nearly double initial plans, holding around 100 hm3 (equivalent to the annual consumption of the Costa del Sol).

In 2020, the ministry of agriculture awarded the drafting of the project for the new reservoir, located on the Gibralmedina stream, a tributary of the Guadiaro river. This project would complement existing reservoirs such as Guadarranque on the same river and Charco Redondo, which utilises water from the Palmones river. Its primary purpose would be to supply water for urban and industrial needs to a population of 500,000 in the Campo de Gibraltar area, as well as for agricultural irrigation.

The original project planned to use water already treated by the Campo's joint authority from the Arenillas purification plant in Castellar. However, water company Acosol preferred raw water instead of treated water to purify it on the Costa del Sol. This preference was incorporated into the project drafted by Typsa-Inproes-Gibralmedina, the alliance of companies involved in its development.

Agricultural and urban uses

The design gives equal priority to agricultural use and supplying the eastern part of Cadiz as it does to Malaga. This expanded scope has required new calculations for pipelines, geological studies, tests, redesigning the dam model, and ensuring environmental safety. The dam wall will reach a height of 80 metres with a crown length of 1,400 metres. These dimensions and terrain characteristics necessitated significant modifications to the foundations. Specifically, the foundation work and the extensive rock requirements pose the greatest challenges for the project, which is more effective at higher altitudes, complicating matters.

These modifications increased the project cost to 437,000 euros, a 19.2% rise from the initial budget.

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